I started out homeschooling with a curriculum plan in mind. I figured I’d teach my kids everything I like learning. That lasted for about three weeks. Then I became an unschooler. A militant unschooler. That lasted for about three years. Then I became a mom who is teaching to the test.

You could call me hypocritical or untethered or unfocused. But at this point, I’m done with the labels. All I care about is figuring out what my kids want and helping them to get it.

Here is a summary of how my son is getting into college. Hopefully.

Plan 1: No academics
My oldest son was going into fourth grade when I took him out of school. We did not have any curriculum. He was doing whatever he wants. I told myself that he wasn’t missing any opportunities in the future by doing unschooling as a pre-teen. Here’s why:

We already know from extensive research that kids intuitively learn basic math. You don’t need to teach other math until sixth grade. And we know that kids teach themselves how to read. Eventually. You don’t need to teach kids to read either.

This means that if you start studying for the SAT when you are in eighth grade, you have three years to learn the math and read the more difficult books to get practice reading and writing. You could do all of that studying in three hours a day. And then that would take you to 11th grade, which is junior year of school. You could spend that year studying for the SAT.

So if kids spend three hours a day studying for four years, they will do fine on the SAT. It seems that doing whatever you want for your whole childhood, aside from that proscribed time, is a pretty good deal if you want to go to college.

Plan 2: Unschooling
My son announced he wants to get a Ph.d in science. He said he was not sure what kind. Maybe astrobiology. Maybe ecology. Maybe biology. It changes. But it never changes from a Ph.d in science.

His personality type is INTJ. That means a Ph.d is a very good route for him. It is very likely that he will be fulfilled solving complex problems in an academic setting. So I get on board. (Want to know what is a good route for your kid? This course.)

My son takes biology with a tutor. He loves it. One hour a day via Skype. A local high schooler comes to our house an hour a day for math. My son doesn’t like math but he understands he needs it for a science degree so he is happy to do it.

Plan 3: Hard-core academics
My 13-year-old son hears my ten-year-old son talking about college. Kids in my younger son’s music program go to the very very top schools for music. My younger son already has in his head that he will accept nothing but the best when it comes to music school.

So my older son asks about college for science. “What are the best ones for science?”

I tell him, “It doesn’t really matter where you go for college it matters where you get your PhD.

“Well, I’d get into a better PhD school from a better college, right?”

He is right. Even though I don’t want more pressure about schools in our house, I capitulate: “Yes. That’s true.”

So I look up best colleges for science, and unless you are doing something oddly specific, like mining, the usual suspects are the best schools for science. I avoid bringing up the topic of Ivy League schools, but my son asks.

“Can I get into Harvard?”

“No.”

“Why not?”

“Pretty much no one can.”

“Well, let’s just try.”

Crap. I do more research.

I call an SAT tutor. His specialty is getting kids to get perfect SAT scores. I hate that I am even calling him but I want to honor my son’s ambition.

How smart is my son anyway? I have no idea.

The guy says he can help my son once he has done algebra II and geometry. And he can help my son with the verbal section when my son is reading books like Great Expectations.

So now we are on the fast track. My son is doing AP biology, and he has a writing tutor who focuses on what he needs to know for the SAT. I get a Barron’s book to prep for AP Spanish because I don’t want him to learn odd vocabulary he’ll never need. (Spanish tidbit: you can learn the American spanish word for oven, the Mexican spanish word for oven, or the literary Spanish word for oven.)

I have become a mother who promotes teaching to the test.

What does that mean? I am trying to figure that out.

I offer to let him quit violin because he’s doing so much right now. But he understands being good at violin will help him get into college so he’ll continue playing. It’s not my dream-come-true reason for playing an instrument, but I’ll take it.

I decide not to give him Farewell to Manzanar because it’s not very difficult reading. Then I decide that I’ll end up with a kid who got rejected from Harvard and didn’t learn empathy. So I tell him to read Farewell to Manzanar. He is happy to have relatively short book. I am happy to have one piece of curriculum that teaches values I believe in.

34 replies
  1. BenK
    BenK says:

    Roughly 5% of applicants get into Harvard. That’s not impossible. I interview homeschooled students for admission sometimes; they are not substantially less competitive than kids in magnet schools, necessarily. They can make choices that make them competitive, or not, just like students in schools; but probably, they can make those choices a bit more readily.

  2. Rachel
    Rachel says:

    I would be very interested in knowing what is now on your reading list for preparing for the SAT specially. I don’t think you have a bad plan considering your kds aspirations. As a matter of fact since my kids are older then yours I’ve been waiting for you to figure this out.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      I mostly try to pick books that have these qualities:
      1. classics – by someone’s definition
      2. more difficult reading than what he’d choose on his own
      3. a book he’ll like (We have a deal that he can put down a book after 50 pages if he hates it.)

      Penelope

  3. MichaelG
    MichaelG says:

    What’s the job market like for a Ph.D in biology? In some areas of science, I think the market is terrible. Have them learn something like computer programming as well. It’s useful and currently, the job market is great.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      For most personality types computer programming is totally boring. Only a small percentage of the world wants to sit in a room alone with code solving a problem.

      My son is an INTJ. Every INTJ I’ve known who could write code switched jobs at the earliest chance.

      It doesn’t make any sense to me that someone should leArn something just because there are lots of jobs. The work still has to be right for him.

      My son wants to do field research which is very entrepreneurial. There are also tons of teaching jobs in high school science. (That would be his version of failure but at least he could eat :)

      Penelope

      • MichaelG
        MichaelG says:

        Well, according to the various tests, I’m an INTJ, and have been coding since I was 12, and I’m still doing it after 40 years.

        Teaching is fine, but when I read about Ph.Ds having to teach 5 grad school courses at once to bring home $25K a year, it seems pretty sad.

        The 1000th best chess player, athlete, actor or cellist is a nobody. The 1000th best programmer or engineer has a great job and can do all sorts of interesting things with his life.

        • Pirate Jo
          Pirate Jo says:

          There is something to be said for this. If you can earn decent money for a while and get yourself debt-free, you can switch to contract work and not have to work as much. That frees up a lot of your time to do things you enjoy doing. Then you are able to do what you love and pay the bills.

          Unfortunately, most of the fun jobs don’t pay anything because they are fun and you don’t really have to pay people to do fun things. I started out in life immediately disqualifying any job from my list that wouldn’t pay me enough to live independently. As an INTJ it’s important to me not to have to live with other people, and that trumps whatever is going on with work. I don’t love work, but I don’t have to do it that much now, anyway, so I don’t care.

          • redrock
            redrock says:

            so – let’s assume I am a hairdresser and thoroughly love to do this and consider it fun. Do my customers not have to pay me?

          • Pirate Jo
            Pirate Jo says:

            Redrock, it’s totally up to you whether your customers have to pay you!

            If you are able to support yourself financially by doing what you really enjoy and think is fun, more power to you!

            That just isn’t the case with most people I know. The ones with “fun” jobs are either perpetually poor or are supported by a spouse. The ones who make good money don’t particularly enjoy their jobs.

        • K
          K says:

          So he’s a poor scientist? Is he happy? If his job makes him feel fulfilled and he surrounds himself with good healthy relationships & find his happiness at 25K a year then what gives? I want my kids to learn happiness, not this cheap materialistic crap that gets shoved down our throats by mass marketing. I live in a 3 bedroom home with my 4 kids & husband. We make “crap” and guess what? I couldn’t be happier.

      • redrock
        redrock says:

        The vast majority of scientists and engineers will not be able to avoid some programming, number crunching and significant computer literacy and skills. Even a botanist will have to use some math based method to assess plant distributions, or populations, and run evolutionary programs. However, this is very different targets then the game programming, which lives entirely in the virtual world. Although – I am pretty sure some game programmers use real life botanist’s data to simulate their virtual world. The work of a biologist (and many other scientists) is changing rapidly.

      • B
        B says:

        My dad is an INTJ. He just retired from being a chemical engineer. He decided he wanted to get a PhD in genetics a few years ago. After taking 1-2 classes a semester, he got his PhD about the time he retired. He realized that in the field of genetics there are very few people who have learned how to problem solve, use math and statistics, or give an engaging presentation – skills which were essential to being an engineer. This is really frustrating for him. He literally had to put an explanation of basic statistics in an appendix of his first peer-reviewed research paper because nobody knew what he was talking about. But he is at a huge advantage when it comes to research. He thinks of things nobody else thinks of. Right now he is starting his own company and trying to get a grant to develop a cheap, preventative blood test that could spot cancer super early. There is most definitely money to be made in research, especially if you have a unique mix of skills or experience.

  4. Heather
    Heather says:

    I don’t think this is teaching to the test at all – it is a perfect example of what I consider self-directed learning (I’m sure the label folks would have a definition that maybe doesn’t match up). Your son has a clear interest with a goal and is directing his learning (with your assistance) to meet his goals. I love it! All kids should be so lucky.

  5. YesMyKidsAreSocialized
    YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

    Will plan #4 be to send them back to traditional school? The public schools in my district teach to the test extremely well. People move to my area to get that sort of education for their kids.
    Starting in middle school they become stressed out little kids filling their lives with six hours at school, plus five extra curriculars all with the same hopes you have demonstrated. I don’t see any circumstance where this level of pressure at such a young age is healthy. My sister in law was valedictorian and went to state schools for her undergrad and advanced degrees and had her Ph.D. basically paid for by the university and now she is a professor in her field and published author and speaker at conferences. She never felt any pressure for the path she chose and public school served her well. She didn’t need the Ivy League for this.

    My oldest wants to go to college too, but we aren’t stressing out about it. We set goals together and she meets them. She does academics for a few hours a day at her own choosing from what we have put together for her to help her meet her goals. I don’t consider this teaching to the test. I consider it learning tailored to what she wants to do.

    • Brynn
      Brynn says:

      My son decided at 7 he wanted to go Ivy or top 20. By 9 he had set up interviews with the local a top twenty and admissions. Two others over Skype. He took the ACT for the first time at 10, voluntarily. If the kid wants Ivy, they do not have to be nuerotic or stressed about it.

      He is learning three languages and was far before Ivy dreams. He started his own non profit because he was frustrated by not recieving legitimacy. He is paid to speak regionally through said non profit and to lobby for legislation. He plays two instruments. He is a long distance backpacker. This is just who my kid is. This is not who my stressed out middle schooler is, this is not who my Ivy bound kid is, this is just my kid. That is the reason he wants to go Ivy. This is the reason he could actually get in. He isn’t forcing anything. Read Applying Sideways by the MIT admissions.

      Your stereotype of the stressed kid is as bad as the stereotype of the weird homeschooler.

      • YesMyKidsAreSocialized
        YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

        Brynn,
        My experience with stressed out middle schoolers is first hand from kids on my children’s swim team and from talking to their parents during practices. The parents are just as stressed out and tell me that their kids have no choice (parents call) and that they MUST go to college, I think that only adds to the pressure. From the many conversation I have had with parents of public school middle kids I hear about what classes they take, how much homework they have each night, and all the activities that the kids are only doing to get into college-not because they are actively choosing these activities. The kids that I talk to and see regularly are very stressed out. It isn’t like with unschooling where our kids find a passion and we help them pursue it, the kids I am referring to don’t have a choice. The parents are telling them they need to choose from a list of activities to start doing at age 11. No real choice. No passion. No desire to learn.

        The kids that are ambitious enough to want that for themselves are almost always part of the homeschool community. How else can they have the time in the day to do everything they want? A lot of the local kids that are part of a charter or public/homeschool hybrid are indeed overachievers and regular school won’t work for them. I was not talking about these kids. These kids already have careers going and have some sort of talent.

        I also did not mean to advance a stereotype, I was only sharing what I see. Congrats to your son for all his achievements. My 8yo is just as ambitious, and we aren’t stressing about college at all. If you saw something in what I wrote that caused you to be offended, then I apologize.

        I was trying to make two points, the second one, is that one doesn’t need the Ivy league to be successful in life or to have one’s dream profession come true. I used my sister-in-law as an example, but I can also use my spouse. He also went to a state college for a mechanical engineering degree and he is working for the company of his dreams making history in the space industry. He is a high earner. He only has a bachelor’s degree. It is more important what one wants to do with their education. The institution is helpful to some, and there is prestige on the resume. But ultimately it is what one does with it that counts.

  6. KS
    KS says:

    My husband is a physics prof. He really likes this tedtalk for helping young scientists think about the research. You and your son will probably find it encouraging and helpful. https://www.ted.com/talks/uri_alon_why_truly_innovative_science_demands_a_leap_into_the_unknown?language=en

    Also, my husband works at a small liberal arts school. He loves to have quality undergrads work in his lab. He has even had high schoolers come into the lab in the summer. It is so helpful when students are self-directed. The particular school doesn’t matter – have him read about different professors’ research. Finding who you want to work with is more important than the institution they work for. Find professors in Madison who are willing to let him tour their labs (or have their grad students give a tour). If you are ever out in Colorado, your son is welcome to come tour my husband’s lab.

    • Bostonian
      Bostonian says:

      KS, thanks very much for posting that link. My son and I watched the talk and enjoyed it. He said he could very much relate to it.

  7. Bostonian
    Bostonian says:

    I find stridency with a shifting target very amusing. If one has made hyperbole and contrariness one’s personal schtick as well as one’s source of financial support for years, it must be hard to back off. One must then also make peace with looking a fool sometimes, but that is easily done as long as one can convince himself he is the right kind of fool,

    I know the titles in this joint frequently don’t match the posts very well, but I question this one. I think it would be nice to have the young man in question remain the subject in his education, not its object. I don’t aspire to get my son into college. He aspires to go to college (specifically, MIT). I’m just going to help him however he wants me to. It’s his deal, not mine. This has been his goal since he was very young. I have my uncertainties – as others here are, I am uncertain of the value of higher degrees (despite having some myself). I am uncertain MIT is really a good choice at undergraduate (mom is plugging for Olin). I wonder whether my son, who seems to have a dreamy, theoretical bent, would be best served by engineering or something more theoretical. But I don’t wonder whether my son will be able to sort out what he needs to do to pursue his goals. He’s got years, he’s intelligent and insightful, and all the resources he could need are available to him.

    As many of my interlocutors here know, next year my son may or may not go back to school. The applications, references, and transcripts are all in now, and in March he will be invited to some schools. He may decline them all, and continue to pursue his education from the base of our home. He won’t be sure which resources are available to him until March, and he is mature enough not make decisions before he has to.

    Teaching to the test is a peculiar quandary. We plan to work with the test in mind sometimes too. I think we’ll do it mostly through him taking the SAT early and repeatedly to get used to it. We won’t alter our curriculum in advance; maybe to address areas of difficulty. I worry about the losses inherent in studying for the test, for any test, efficiently. There are so many other, better things to do.

    Anxiety can be such a killer. I am glad my son’s scores on the one test he took were so excellent, because that makes us feel a lack of anxiety on the matter of tests. We know that his scores on further tests are likely to be similarly high, and any study is just a matter of picking up the last few questions. That frees him to study what he wants. Which creates a virtuous circle, as the things he likes to study would tend to improve one’s scores on tests. Perhaps there’s a vicious circle out there too, where too much studying for too many tests creates a condition of shallow learning that improves one’s scores in the short term while depressing them in the long run, sort of like the effects of sugar or stimulants on the body.

    In any case, I will continue to enjoy this blog if it pivots now to cover the travails of an ambitious mother and her college-driven son.

    Oh, by the way, about the words for oven. I do not think they mean what our host thinks they mean. I would be fascinated to hear about other words in Spanish for oven besides horno (bearing in mind that estufa and fogón do not mean oven, but other similar devices). For AP Spanish, does one have to learn a special idiolect?

    • jessica
      jessica says:

      Wow this brought back the memories.
      I did not study for any of the college entrance exams. I took the SAT maybe four times and the ACT 2 or 3 times. After my second ACT I got an almost perfect score. I did this keeping in mind most universities take the top scores from each section individually and assess from there- very few ‘average all the tests’. This is called a Superscore.
      Here is a link that describes the various processes the universities and Ivy’s subscribe to. http://blog.prepscholar.com/which-colleges-superscore-the-sat

      So anyway I would walk in, purposefully ‘flunk’ or try very little at one section and focus exclusively on another. On the days when I was not aiming for a higher score in a particular subject I would sit there and answer in a split second the questions with whatever was top of the mind. I was finished in no time.

      The funny thing is even when I used this strategy and purposefully ignored certain sections, I kept scoring higher on them. I remember sitting in the room generally relaxed and looking around while everyone was busy heavy testing each section. Of course it was a pain to sit there for each test, but the outcome was more than worth the time spent.

      Having a glance through the list- MIT also takes the highest individual score from each section.

    • Nikki
      Nikki says:

      I wonder at your snarky ambitious mother comment. Floored really and perhaps wondering if its more of a joke. Otherwise it is very judgmental. She is not entering her child in a useless beauty contest. She has not enrolled him in every college prep advantage that has come her way since his birth. She is simply following her child and being a support to him to meet his goals and dreams as a teacher should! It does not matter that it is not her goals or agenda. I had one child who is very academic reading at age 2 you can read for yourself if you scroll down to my comments. What I did not say is I have another who is going on 11 and is just getting past three letter words. Its not a race. Its not a competition. Its not for ambition that we do this “job”. It is so that each of our children can achieve their level of success and goals. Really she should be commended on putting aside her own feelings to follow those of her child’s. That is true teaching. I did not even take the ACT. I went to Tech college because I felt obligated by meaningful friends and family. I started my own business at 23 and now run several-nothing to do with my “college” experience. College is not necessary or even needed. I have known that forever and will teach my children they can also achieve satisfaction and reach goals without it. But I will also support them if they wish it. I will change how I teach for them to achieve it. That is the role I have agreed to play by homeschooling them. If I find my own agenda or pressure is influencing them away from their own goals and dreams then I will step back and let someone else take over. I hope I can be strong enough to bite my tongue and let them make their own life choices as well!

  8. Anna
    Anna says:

    “I have become a mother who promotes teaching to the test.

    What does that mean? I am trying to figure that out.”

    There is a difference between that being one’s mindset in a tacit manner (who the person is), versus sectioning off that mode as a defined goal, while one’s general perspective is larger. If that makes sense. The former is one’s whole viewpoint; the latter is merely a tactic, like one tool in a box, in a much larger universe. I think the former would someone who thinks there is inherent, real validity in the test, whereas the latter is someone who sees the test as very limited in its scope, with finite creators of the test. And life is much larger than such a test. It’s probably a matter of the location of the seat of authority — the test and its makers or the greater sum of life. Use it or be used by it. (Or ignore it completely, of course.)

    This is all probably totally obvious, but I thought I’d add the comment anyway.

  9. Mark W.
    Mark W. says:

    There’s an option that I read about recently that hasn’t been mentioned above in the post or the comments. The article ( http://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2014/09/02/how-do-unschoolers-turn-out/ ) said no SAT, ACT, or other tests were being taken by most unschoolers in a particular study and the route taken was started in a community college at a young age. Specifically, it stated – “Most of those who went on to college did so without either a high school diploma or general education diploma (GED), and without taking the SAT or ACT. Several credited interviews and portfolios for their acceptance to college, but by far the most common route to a four-year college was to start at a community college (typically begun at age 16, but sometimes even younger).” This makes sense to me as it gives the homeschool student a chance to explore and prove their academic ability in a college setting when other students in their age group are still going to high school.
    Also there are factors to consider when picking out a college or university other than being the most prestigious. It’s the quality of the teaching and the student to teacher ratio. I went to a small university where the professors did all the teaching and were present in all the labs. It wasn’t their assistants doing the teaching while they were doing their research. Even the dean of the engineering school was not exempt from teaching classes. Also I remember some class sizes in my junior and senior year that were in the single digits. All my questions were answered either in or after class. Most importantly, the professors were available to the students on a one to one basis.

  10. renn
    renn says:

    I’m a long time reader of both your blogs, and I’m baffled by this. You have been so strident in your points that (1) college is unnecessary, (2) graduate school is completely unnecessary, and (3) that following your “heart” professionally makes no sense because there aren’t a lot of actual jobs out there for the heart followers.

    You’ve offered this hard advice time and again. But, suddenly, for your kids, it’s different. Now its get into a great school! An Ivy! And, teaching to the test, which you’ve critiqued mainstream schools time and again. These are now things your kids want, so you support their endeavors (which I completely understand).

    I can definitely understand that different facts can change your personal course. And, that as your kids change, their goals change and the ways in which you can help them change too.

    I have read your blog and thought you made very compelling points about a variety of issues. But, my only complaint is that you seem to reach the conclusion you want to, and then find the facts/articles/etc. to support what you wanted to do all along. But, do you feel any accountability for steering your readers in ways you have now abandoned?

    In a way I’m glad to see this change of heart, because being rigid for rigidity’s sake makes no sense. But, how you do account for steering your readers in ways you have now abandoned? Don’t your original points still hold water?

    I don’t have a horse in this race, since I’m the mom of two never-to-be-homeschooled toddlers.

    • Nikki
      Nikki says:

      I think she is right on target. We can lead our children to water but we cant force them to drink. Real freedom of choice is providing them with opportunities to explore both sides of the coin. How could you condone her turning away from her child’s dreams and values instead of taking up her own? We are not brainwashing children we teach them our beliefs, we expose them to both sides and then we let them be the capable individuals they are by allowing them to choose their own path. I would be MUCH more concerned to find out that she is refusing her child to go to college because it does not align with her addenda and goals…. She clearly told you how her kids honed in on the best college for their interests and no it was not through herself! A real teacher puts aside their own wants for another person to allow that person to find what THEY want :) Bravo to her. And I can relate as I might be in the same boat. I dont really think IVY is all that, and college not necessary but my 12 year old thinks differently so I may have to change how I educate so that I can provide him with the tools HE needs to be successful and happy in life….

  11. Shauna Kay
    Shauna Kay says:

    I don’t see any anything to apologise for here! I see you as a facilitator of space. You have defended your child’s space and freedom to choose with determination and passion. You have been guided by what he is interested in and always passionate about it. Sharing those thoughts and passions would have helped many over the years,
    So, here you are again facilitating the best path for him to achieve his desires, EVEN if they are in opposition to your beliefs.
    All the “please explain” yourself posts above are just trying to be “right”. The ‘ol shame and blame game.
    Isn’t it great that your son can have all that delicious freedom AND get to achieve the PHD…maybe…(who knows?) Isn’t that what this is all about?
    There are many ways to get to your destination and you are proof.
    All power to you and to your son, go for it :) I’m cheering from Australia!

  12. linda
    linda says:

    Stanford admits 30% of homeschoolers and 5% of schoolers.

    David & Goliath by Gladwell has a chapter that might make you think twice about sending him to an Ivy. The upshot is it is better to have a STEM major in a state university than get discouraged by being among geniuses at the top school and switch to sociology.

    One path is to get an AA at a community college and apply to a state university (or possibly a private school, 2nd tier) to finish up. In this scenario there is no ACT or SAT required and there’s virtually no stress from the admissions rat race. For some, community college is free. Class sizes are small, and the professor teaches the labs.

    I’m perplexed you or he thinks Ivy is important. Personally I saw a lot of red flags among their students … very spoiled, entitled, no genuine interest, no self direction. Read The Excellent Sheep, for example.

    Self-directed learning is available in higher education too, as with homeschooling. In fact every professor is self educating daily. One does not need to be at an Ivy to get a great education. It might make a difference for the elite who are networking.

    Also universities can be stressful places for INTJs. Lots of ridiculous politics and complex social situations with lots of other people who also don’t have great social skills. It is not a recipe for a high functioning work environment. And job availability is highly questionable.

    • Nikki
      Nikki says:

      You have touched on some of my fears about the peer base at Ivy colleges and I worry that these are the potential life friends and perhaps even spouse pool he will be exposed to! Although I think at least half the kids are not privileged brats and really are there to get a top notch education (wishful thinking…I dont know!) However, my 12 year old has always been academic to the tenth degree. No joke. And now he wants to get his PHD in Egyptology. Now everyone knows that in the field of Archaeology the only way to get the real experience and to get the few amazing jobs available you have to get an education from a top college recognized as “the best”….even if it really isn’t. Sigh. Its all a political game, but one I feel he wants to play to insure he gets to be his life long dream (and this child has been blowing out his birthday candles for 7 years with one dream in mind….). I agree 100% for my other kids. No need to go Ivy for computer degrees. Engineering. Teaching. Business even. But for his SPECIFIC goals and dreams I fear it is this path or give up the dream. And he is capable of reaching this goal-but am I capable providing the right opportunities to reach it is more of the question. I love education and I put a lot of time and energy into it, but I make it fun, interesting, individually meaningful and yes sometimes challenging to insure growth also. But I am very casual with my approach also. Very Unschooling at heart….

  13. Nikki
    Nikki says:

    I never leave comments. Never. But I really connect with you on this. My approach is that young children only need supportive situations and materials to learn: museums, parks, random co-ops more for social opportunities, as much art as I can stomach etc. Elementary kids need access to materials and positive encouragement and real interest from their teachers (as long as the interest is there it does not matter this person does not know it inside and out and can actually learn right along side of kids no problem-its their enthusiasm that is important!) some structure (we do about an hour a day of journaling, classical conversations memory work, teaching textbook math, violin etc) and lots of opportunities to try different things like sports, art, life skills etc. Under 12 I have it down to a T. My kids love to learn they choose most of their days activities with a little bit of direction from me-and they do this with a positive attitude and a can do spirit most of the time ;) Now enter my 12 year old. This kid was reading by age 2 and reading BIG words like reticulated giraffe! Since he was five he has said he wants to be an archaeologist and Egyptologist to be specific. He used to talk about going to college at age 10 (when he was 7 he asked me to pick up college applications when I went to do some work-I was like ummm no) but I talked him out of it as I told him that college is a time to grow socially and into his own person and that childhood would only be here once. He would read 18 hours a day if I let him (and he mostly does unless we have classes and whatnot-he loves to learn so he puts his book down for these: once we arrive that is) he has even tried to read and walk before. He is just, well academic. And like your little one he wants to go to the “BEST” college he can get into. Now here I am trying to get him to put his books down and enjoy childhood (and he has the heart of a child while playing its soooo funny he really gets into it and he loves to please so I really dont have to nag just remind him to go PLAY! such a corundum lol) and he wants to go IVY. Part of me knows that this is the place for him. A place that he can finally connect with others who carry the same interests that he does. A place he can excel… but part of me cries over giving up his childhood to prep for this. These kids have been prepping all their lives. He is such a sweet little sole he is fine if he is not “good enough” to get it, but then my heart aches that he wants this sooo bad. And even though he has a year or two more before really having to buckle down, part of me knows he is passing up precious prep time that could make highschool less stressful. Trying for a balance now. Trying to find more depth and enriching classes and then giving him tons of down time. Hopefully it is enough because my child at age 12 has never even taken a test in his life. EVER. I will start with some light testing soon to start preparing him for something I dont believe in-why test children you are basically just asking: what do you NOT know. I am more about exposing and making learning important and valuable to them and giving them multi sensory approaches so that it sticks in the end if its important enough to them or has meaning in their lives and shrugging off the rest.

Comments are closed.